Article By: Logan Hannen
What is up, watchfam?! Today, we’re going to take a look at the Kryptonite of mechanical timepieces – magnets.
More specifically, we’re going to look at the dangers of your watch becoming magnetized and how it can be fixed, along with some of the most common culprits of this unfortunate situation. Now, to be fair, when we say “ watch magnetization,” we’re referring to the movement of the watch being the bit that takes the brunt of the problem, not so much the case or bracelet. This is why, when you see a piece like the Rolex Milgauss, the piece itself looks no different until you crack open the back and inspect the movement area.
In most watches with any magnetic resistance built into them, the movement is encased in what is commonly referred to as a Faraday Cage, a soft iron case that surrounds the movement and conducts magnetic fields around it, rather than through it. Other movements use silicon for parts like the balance wheel which, seeing as silicon is antimagnetic, helps to keep the timing from being impacted by a magnetic field (the most common example of this is in the Omega Master Co-Axial Movement).
So how does a movement even become magnetized? Well, that list is far longer than I’d like it to be, and you’ll see why in a second. While certain magnetic fields, such as that of an x-ray machine, are not only incredibly strong, but also incredibly uncommon for the majority of us to be encountering on a frequent basis, there are others, such as a really strong speaker system that can also do some damage. A lot of it comes down to the level of exposure, things like how long the watch was around the magnetic field and how intense it was. My favorite example of the speaker thing, as an FYI, is electronic musician deadmau5, who was notorious for wearing a black-dialed Milgauss for a while which, given his profession, makes more than enough sense for me to consider him a tiny-bit of a watch geek.
When it comes to fixing magnetization, you’ve really only got two options: my personal recommendation is take the piece into a qualified watchmaker to have them demagnetize it. For me, it’s all about trust and there are a few things with watches that I simply don’t trust myself doing (and anything to do with the movement is one of them). If you do have a bit of a knack for movement work, though, you can always buy yourself a professional demagnetizer and DIY the process. The brand I’ve linked here isn’t necessarily one I know anything about aside from the fact that they offer one, so do some research if you feel like tackling this task yourself. There are a number of YouTube videos, as well, which show some DIY methods, but since I don’t know how reliable any of them are, I don’t want to recommend any. After all, if I did, and something awful happened to your watch as a result, I’d feel terrible, and it would be almost impossible to keep it classy, watchfam. (Alright, I know that one was a bit of a reach, guys, but work with me here.)
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